field report no.061916

LOCATION: Prospect Park BK.NY
SUBJECT: Kristin Hersh

This evening was an interesting study in contrasts. I can sort of understand why Kristin Hersh was booked to open for Violent Femmes, but it's probably one of those things that looked better on paper. Sure, they're from the same era of college rock. If you squint, you could say they are both largely acoustic performers (but only if you consider Hersh's solo career). The similarities pretty much end there.

Kristin Hersh is a raw emotional force—she's set to release a collection of lyrics, titled: Nerve Endings. Her voice can wail or growl. Her songs, though of rock-folk origins, move under their own logic, regardless of expectations. Violent Femmes ride a thin line between satirical commentary and pure novelty. They've made a career, well into their 50s, of wallowing in teen angst—turning petulance into polka party music.

There's certainly some crossover. Hell, I like both bands—but it's important to note: I like them in very different ways. Violent Femmes are like a time capsule. I enjoy listening to them on record as a memory of pleasures past. Hersh I follow today as a working, growing artist. Tellingly, she played a song this night that dates back to the 80s (You Cage); while it wasn't a radical departure, it felt… different than her more current material. She's grown and changed. 

The Femmes played some new material, too, but it felt like thin self-parody. We didn't stay long after they came on. After Kristin Hersh, tacos sounded like a much better plan than listening to the outdated museum piece that was the Violent Femmes.

NOTES: Kristin Hersh; Violent Femmes. (sketch after a photo by Angela.)